By T S Sudhir
My colleague in Bangalore, Vasanthi Hariprakash, a self-confessed cricket-hater posted this on Facebook the morning after the Mohali clash : “Now I realise, I should have gone to Tirupati yesterday. I am sure there would have been no soul, no queue either for darshan or for the world-famous laddoo !”
Vasanthi would have been surprised if she had embarked on the pilgrimage. The authorities at Tirumala tell me 47000 devout turned up for darshan on Wednesday, which is normal for a weekday.
But the rest of India was glued to the small and big screens post 2:30 pm, praying the 5’4” tall God of small things annihilates India’s rivals. The more privileged and lucky 26000 Indians and 2000 Pakistanis found a seat at the cricketing shrine at Mohali to see `Lord’ Sachin Tendulkar produce one of his most scrappy though a very useful innings. Sachin found the cricketers from across Wagah were simply not interested in some useful catch practise. Aila, catches after catches were put down as the Master Blaster laboured to 85 in an effort that was neither masterly nor a blast.
So much so that Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah, who ideally wouldn’t be seen giving an inch to Pakistan, tweeted “Enough is enough, I think Sachin should “walk” on next drop catch now ;)”
After the match, Sachin seemed embarrassed by the Pakistani benevolence. “Five lives! God has been kind to me. It is not something which has happened to me earlier.”
The Sachin Lovers club however, tells me he has reserved his 100th ton for his home ground. We will have to see who triumphs in the Lasith Malinga vs Sachin battle at the Wankhede. Don’t expect the bowler with a cruel fascination for the batsman’s toes to not go for his Mumbai Indians skipper’s feet. But be assured, it won’t be a case of “Aapke perr kahan hai, Sachin bhagwaan” kind of devotion.
Social networking sites are full of suggestions on how Lord Hanuman should be invoked to ensure India gets past Lanka. Divine help should be welcome. Old timers recall a similar pattern in 1996, when India put it past Pakistan in a well-contested quarter final at Bangalore, only to derail in the semis against Lanka at the Eden Gardens. The bright Bengali crowd tried to help the country’s cause by disrupting the match, when India were 120-8, chasing 251, in the hope that the match will be abandoned. Nothing of the sort happened and the Island nation was declared the winner.
Just as India wants the Cup after 28 years, the only trophy missing in Sachin’s cabinet, Sri Lanka also wants to win it for its Smiling assassin, Muthiah Muralitharan, who will retire after the final of the World Cup.
History favours Sri Lanka. No team has won the World Cup so far, playing the final on home soil. But I hope Sachin will make it HIS STORY at the Wankhede stadium on Saturday. That, along with Lords@1983, will be one story I would love to tell my grandchildren.